Oklahoma school honors winning teams, local veterans with spot in trophy case

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TONKAWA, Okla. (KFOR) - The eighth-graders in Shaun Staton's social studies class are getting a steady dose of the American Revolution leading up to Thanksgiving.

But every time they head to the new gym, they get another history lesson; something much closer to home field or home court.

"We hope to inspire the kids coming through now," said Tonkawa Alumni Association officer Ginger Hunter.

Tonkawa schools and city leaders wanted to build their new event center with a grand entrance when they drew up the plans, making sure there was plenty of room for the state champion teams and lots of other award winners too.

Another alumni official and local veteran Mike Schatz says, "They honor band. They honor sports. They need to honor military as well. To me, that's a priority."

People like Mike Schatz and Ginger Hunter, with the school's alumni association, convinced Tonkawa Schools Superintendent Lori Simpson to leave space for members of another team, foreign war veterans from every conflict going back to World War I.

"For us to be able to display the history of our students' parents, grandparents, great grandparents, it brings about a sense of pride and the kids just love it," Superintendent Simpson said.

They already had a pretty big list to start.

Hunter's brother was part of a National Guard unit called up during the Korean Conflict. Schatz and another brother had a pretty good list of Vietnam-era classmates off the top of their heads.

Schatz point out, "This gentleman here, Charles Clemens, we joined up together."

This memorial showcase is a stopping point for students on their way to practice or fans coming to watch a Buccaneers game.

"They've paid more attention than I thought they would," smiles Hunter.

Sports fans can look at last year's state champion football team.

But they often stop here to remind themselves of another team, the one that made all the others possible, the one we celebrate every year on this day.

The Tonkawa Alumni Association is still looking for names to attach to their memorial wall and list of local veterans.

For more information, click here.

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